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The Azzurrini will be confident of recording another victory against a struggling Belarusian outfit.

Kick-Off: Tuesday 23 June, 20:45 CET. Olympia Stadium, Helsingborg.

Mission Impossible


Belarus will require a miracle in order to progress to the final four of the 2009 U-21 European championships, following their two disappointing opening matches.

They opened their account with an embarrassing 5-1 hammering at the hands of the hosts Sweden, whilst they were held to a scoreless draw by Serbia just a few days later.

In this clash, they face an impressive Italian outfit, one that will be keen to book their spot in the final four as well, with a victory that will confirm their spot atop of Group A.

The chances of Belarus of advancing further in the championships are extremely slim at this point, as they will need to record a convincing victory over the Azzurrini. In fact, they will need to defeat Italy by at least three goals to guarantee their passage to the final four.

They have been incredibly out of sorts thus far in the tournament, and will therefore need a massive turn around in this match, in order to give themselves any chance of pulling off a miracle.

Hoping To Advance In Style


Italy were very disappointing in their opening match of the 2009 U-21 European championships, as they could only manage a 0-0 draw with a resolute Serbian outfit. They bounced back strongly though, as they accounted for the hosts Sweden 2-1, to send them to the top of Group A.

The Azzurrini came into this tournament as the joint favourites alongside Spain and England, so if they were to fail to progress through the group stage, then that would certainly be yet another low point, in what is slowly becoming a dismal summer in the peninsula, especially following the senior team’s elimination from the Confederations Cup in South Africa.

In order to give themselves a chance of winning a sixth crown at this level, the equation is simple for them. They must avoid defeat to guarantee them of a spot in the final four, where they will meet either England, Germany or Spain, depending on results in the other group. Their fate rests in their own hands in this match, and at this point it is likely that they will advance further in the competition.

Obviously the Italians will want to finish on top of their group, and keeping in mind that a win will achieve this for them, they will be determined to record their second successive victory in the tournament. If they were to draw, then they will need to hope that Sweden and Serbia draw, or that the latter win by a single goal in a low scoring affair.

They are one of the favourites for a reason in this tournament, so expect the Azzurrini to come out firing when these two sides meet on Tuesday.

FORM GUIDE

Belarus

June 19 v Serbia (N) – DREW 0-0

June 16 v Sweden (N) – LOST 1-5

June 6 v Finland (A) – LOST 0-1

May 31 v Germany (A) – DREW 1-1

October 10 v Turkey (A) – LOST 0-1

Italy

June 19 v Sweden (A) – WON 2-1

June 16 v Serbia (N) – DREW 0-0

June 8 v Denmark (H) – WON 4-0

October 15 v Israel (A) – WON 3-1

October 11 v Israel (H) – DREW 0-0

TEAM NEWS

Belarus:

The news on the injury front for the bottom place side in Group A is fairly positive, as there are no significant concerns for them. Unlike the Italians, they do have the option of selecting an unchanged line-up from their most recent match against Serbia, however one would expect that Dimitri Komarovskiy will lose his spot up front for Vladimir Yurchenko, who did take part in the opening match against Sweden.

Possible Starting XI – (4-2-3-1): Chesnovsky; Shitov, Verkovtsov, Martynovich, Osipovich; Afansanyiev, Volodko; Kislyak, Kovel, Kryvets; Yurchenko.

Italy:

Pierluigi Casiraghi has a wealth of talent at his disposal, and with no worries on the injury front either, the only concerns for the Azzurrini boss, regard who to play from the start in this clash. He will of course be without the suspended Mario Balotelli, following his sending off against Sweden, and with this in mind, one change up front is a definite for them in this contest.

Possible Starting XI – (4-3-3): Consigli; Motta, Andreolli, Bocchetti, Criscito; De Ceglie, Marchisio, Dessena; Abate, Acquafresca, Giovinco.

PLAYERS TO WATCH


Belarus – Sergei Kislyak: After impressing against Sweden, the attacking midfielder will be pivotal to the success of his team on the night in this encounter. He will need to lead his side from the front, by putting in another solid showing, to give his country any hope of pulling off the miracle they require in order to progress further in the competition.

Italy – Sebastian Giovinco: The pint-sized attacker put in another good performance against the Swedes on Friday, after a dominant showing against the Serbians in the opening match of the tournament. If Italy wish to attain the three points required to send them through on top of their group, then this man will certainly be the man for the Belarusians to keep a close eye on throughout.

PREDICTION

The Italians are a much stronger squad on paper, however both sides will be determined to win, and give themselves every chance of advancing to the final four of the competition. Belarus will need to pull one out of the hat if they are to stun the five time European champions at this level, however I’m tipping they won’t, meaning that the Azzurrini will easily emerge victorious.

Belarus 0-3 Italy

Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com

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